Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said Monday morning on Boston sports radio station WEEI that he will not retire from baseball at the end of this season, as he previously had planned, and that he is in discussions with the Red Sox on a contract extension for 2008.
“I will play in 2008,” were the words 40-year-old Curt Schilling told Red Sox Nation this morning on the Dennis and Callahan show.
His contract with the Red Sox ends after this season.
“Where I’m going to play beyond 2007, I hope it’s Boston, but I will go out and find a home to pitch,” he said. “I hope it’s here but there’s also that possibility [of pitching for another team].”
Would he consider pitching for the Yankees in 2008?
“It wouldn’t be in New York,” Schilling told host Gerry Callahan. “No. I could not make that move.”
Schilling said that he is talking about an extension with the Red Sox.
“I’m in discussions with the Red Sox, we had talked last week and there’s a lot going on obviously right now, but where I’m going to play beyond 2007 … I hope it’s Boston,” he said . “This is where I want to play and in the days leading up to spring training we’ll figure it out one way or the other. If I go into this season without a contract from the Red Sox then I will go out and find a home for 2008.”
When asked if the negotiations with the Red Sox will go only through the end of spring training, Schilling said, “Well, probably not even then. We’re set to talk here again this week and we’ll talk probably in the days leading up to spring training, but there’s so much going on this year here from the team standpoint that I’ve never been comfortable dragging stuff like this into the season … and I wouldn’t do that this year either.”
Red Sox owner John Henry said Schilling’s announcement was great news for the team.
“It was something that has been in the back of my mind for the last year,” Henry told The Associated Press in an e-mail. “He’s such a competitor you had to figure that if he is healthy, pitching well and still has that fire, it would make sense for him to continue. He’s still one of the elite pitchers in all of baseball.”
The talk radio circuit had been humming recently in support of a possible Schilling run for John Kerry’s seat in the U.S. Senate in 2008, but that appears to be out of the realm of possibility with today’s news.
Schilling said his family played a big part in his decision not to hang ‘em up after this season.
“Over the last probably five to six months my wife and kids and I have been talking, and we came to conclusion about a week or 10 days ago that I was not going to retire in 2007,” said Schilling. “I always believed physically I was going to be more than OK; I feel like last year, while I certainly didn’t have a year like I know I could have, towards the end I became a lot healthier …
“My wife and kids want me to continue to play, which was the only reason I was really retiring in the first place, and they talked me into it … I was convinced [about retiring] and my family was abiding by that decision [to retire], and they talked me out of it, so I will be playing in 2008.”
“The thing that scared me most about this was the fact that maybe I’m just not as fun to be around at home as I thought I was,” Schilling joked. “But it was all on them. If they had even hinted at being uncomfortable with me playing beyond 2007, I wouldn’t. I would have walked away thankful to the Lord and everything for the opportunities I had been given and the experiences I’ve had, but they want to stay in the life and they want to continue to have this as part of our life so we’re going to play through this season and we’re going to play again in 2008 and beyond.”
Schilling was 15-7 with a 3.97 ERA last season, his third in a Red Sox uniform.
More thoughts from Schilling during this morning’s interview on WEEI:
* Would he ever consider a deal for less than a full season, a la Roger Clemens?:
“At some point, sure. Maybe down the road, yeah, but knock on wood, I think I’m a long way from that. … I want to pitch Opening Day because I deserve to be the Opening Day starter, not because it’s what they think is right. I want to be the No. 1 guy on this staff, and that’s going to take some effort given the staff we’ve put together this year.”
* What about pitching beyond 2008?:
“We’ll see what happens. Again, this is not going to be a topic that I want to go back and forth and discuss and have it be a distraction either for myself or for my teammates and my family or the organization. So, I don’t have any plans to retire anytime soon.”
* Why isn’t it just a simple matter of the Sox re-upping his contract for one more season?:
“I had hoped it was that simple, it’s just not. As much as we like to think things can be taken care of easily and quickly, this is a business and I understand that. I think I’ve earned the right to get a contract for the 2008 season from this team before we go to the season and if that’s not in the cards I totally understand that. I certainly would be disappointed if that were the case, but I think I’ll be good enough to get a job at some point with someone elsewhere.”
* Does Schilling think the Red Sox want to see how he looks this season before committing to a contract for 2008?:
“Yeah, but, you know, I guess that would be the case for every player in the game, as far as contracts are concerned. Who wouldn’t want to wait to see how somebody looks and does before they signed him to a contract for a following year but again, I think I’ve earned the right to at least, if it’s going to be here, to get that situation settled before the season starts.”
* On Boston’s potential acquisition of Todd Helton:
“I will tell you honestly. In the 17-18 years I’ve been in the big leagues, including Barry Bonds, there is no hitter in the game I’ve disliked facing more than Todd Helton. Not even a close second. He was the hardest at-bat I’ve ever had every time I faced him. No holes and can do some things at the plate that will just blow you away. … Coors Field didn’t make him who he was. He was an incredible grind for an at-bat. Every at-bat. And I got to know him a little bit, we did a thing at the White House together and I got to meet him and talk to him and he’s that quintessential … I know it’s an old cliché, but he’s that gamer. It’s an old cliché, but it’s so apropos for him. He is a phenomenal competitor and offensively, I look at this lineup, and you plug Todd Helton in there and my God, it gets absolutely scary to think about having to face this lineup.”
* A little political talk from Schilling:
“Given the Q&A last week from the media on me about the Senator thing, and all the other stuff that was going on, some questions were being asked about potentially running in 2008, although I will say I do have a lot more respect for Joe Lieberman today, but you know the ironic thing about that whole situation is, when you read through that, isn’t it amazing how hard it is for someone just to say they’re gonna vote for the right guy instead of the party? And as far as Hillary Clinton goes, I just want her to keep talking. Amazing. I just cringe every time I hear someone with a voice in the political scene talking out against the war. I’m not for it. No one’s for it, but I just feel like, especially someone like Hillary, who has to know that those comments have serious implications overseas for the men and women of the United States armed forces, and it scares the hell out of me.”
Schilling also told the station he would throw his support behind Arizona Sen. John McCain for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, rather than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Click here to listen to the entire interview (you will be redirected to WEEI.com).
Material from The Associated Press was added to this report at 4 p.m.